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The trends in natural supply and demand in Colombia mean that by January 2017 the country will have to start importing gas in order to meet domestic demand, according to national energy planning unit UPME.
In an updated natural gas outlook plan, the UPME states that although electricity generation on Colombia's Atlantic coast is the primary user of imported natural gas, the capacity of a future 400Mf3/d regasification plant in Cartagena would provide sufficient surplus to supply other sectors, and this would need a change in the regulations to take place, the UPME document said.
The plan adds that if no new and significant source of natural gas is found in the country in the remainder of this decade, by the start of the next decade Colombia will need to have new import and regasification capacity, with the country's Pacific coast recommended as the best location due to lower operational costs and greater reliability.
The domestic gas distribution system will also require expansion, particularly on the Mariquita-Gualanday, Cusiana-Apiay and Cartagena-Barranquilla pipelines. Works will also need to be completed to enable gas transport between Cartagena and La Guajira to the interior of the country.
The document supports the expansion of the Barrancabermeja and Cartagena refineries, combined with operations starting in Colombia's Orca and Clarinete gas fields.
Expansion of the Barrancabermeja refinery will increase production by 100GBTU/d by 2020, while the Cartagena expansion will raise output by 90GBTU/d by 2019.
The UPME also recommends that the gas outlook plan should be extended for a further 20 years to consider possible risks related to midstream infrastructure and gas storage.